Mass-Migration: A Global Issue Discussed In-Depth in Global Conservations

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The ongoing war in Ukraine led to 5 million people leaving the country, but this is just the latest example of people moving around the world in unprecedented numbers.  

There are a many of reasons that can lead directly to mass-migration, and they are discussed at-length in this edition of Global Conversation, as Euronews Journalist, Nuno Prudêncio, speaks to António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 

Nuno Prudêncio, Euronews: War, terrorism, poverty, climate change. There can be many reasons behind a migration flow. We are at the Estoril Conferences, near Lisbon, where young people are debating a “Future of Hope”. Here with us is António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Welcome to Euronews. My very first question is: we are surrounded here by young people. There’s a war going on very near us, in Ukraine. How can we prepare younger generations to face and respond to the various migrations that keep happening?

**António Vitorino:**The vast majority of migrants worldwide are young people, and the first task, I would say, for young people in the countries of destination is to get in touch with those young migrants. Get to know them, understand why they came. What are their hopes and their expectations? So my appeal here today in the Estoril Conferences is to say get engaged, get in touch, understand why people are fleeing from war, from poverty, from climate change. And then act and act means volunteering, the support, but also advocating a treatment with dignity to migrants.

Euronews: How is your organization coping with the possibility of a long term war?

António Vitorino: This refugee crisis is totally unique. First of all, because it has grown enormously in a very short period of time. And unfortunately, I am afraid this crisis is going to be lasting. So we need to address the immediate needs of those people, both refugees in the European countries and those who have lost everything but nevertheless stayed inside Ukraine, which means shelter, which means water, electricity, food, cash support. And last but not least, prepare for the winter because the winter is around the corner. But at the same time, if people want to survive, they need to be resilient. And we need to start creating hope for the future, particularly when it comes to the need of reconstructing a country that has been largely devastated by the war.

Euronews: Poland and Hungary were united in a bloc of countries that refused to follow Brussels policy on asylum seekers. That seems to have changed after the Russian invasion. Do you think that this conflict, the Ukrainian conflict, may cause a change of views in Central Europe?

António Vitorino: I hope that the generosity that the civil society has shown will also contaminate governments. In fact, as we have heard today during these conferences, the first respondents were the people, were the citizens who supported the Ukrainians that were fleeing. Official agencies only came after the first positive impact. And I sincerely hope that there is still a reserve of human kind in every country, in every person.

**Euronews:**This war and the food crisis may worsen the humanitarian conditions in many African countries, which may lead to an upsurge in migration. What are your main concerns about this?

António Vitorino: I think that there is a close link between food insecurity, climate change and forced mobility. And we need to tackle all these components at once immediately. Food insecurity is not just because of the rise of the price of the cereals, because of the war. That’s part of the story. But there is another part of the story which is the terrible impact that climate change, extreme weather events, drought, prolonged drought or sometimes floods, intensive floods have on agricultural production. And the integrated approach requires a mobilisation of the international community and a close cooperation, as we do in IOM with the World Food Programme and with the FAO to tackle the challenge. That is not a short term challenge. It’s a long term challenge, to incorporate adaptation and mitigation of climate change in the daily lives of the communities.

Euronews: Precisely, climate change… In the future, there are millions of people that can be displaced, who can be forced to leave their homes due precisely to climate change. How can we prepare populations to face this kind of exodus?

**António Vitorino:**If you look to the Pacific Islands or to the Caribbean, you will see that it is the rise of the water, of the the level of the water of the sea that is damaging the livelihoods in those regions. But if you look, for instance, to a country like Sudan, where IOM is very much present, we are dealing with thousands, tens of thousands of displaced persons because of drought. But in the same country, but in another region, we are dealing with tens of thousands of displaced people because of the floods. So you need to have a tailor made approach to the realities on the ground. Migration might be part of the solution for the impacts of climate change, but what we need is to prioritise that people want to stay where they live and create the community resilience conditions to stay and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Euronews: The Taliban regime has recently celebrated one year in power in Afghanistan. The United Nations says this country is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. How has that impacted your work?

António Vitorino: Enormously, as you can imagine. But let’s be very frank. The situation in Afghanistan was already a very serious humanitarian situation, even before the Taliban took over in 15 of August 2021. So the structural problems in Afghanistan have multifolded. You have the drought, you have the instability and the insecurity, but you also have a very difficult health situation in the country. And due to the political dimension of this, the situation in Afghanistan, the international community, the UN agencies, amongst which IOM, we deliver humanitarian assistance. But there are limits for what humanitarian assistance can do. Several things can only be addressed in the long term on the basis of a development strategy. And due to political constraints, nowadays the funding for development actions is limited because of the sanctions, and so we tend to focus, above all, on humanitarian assistance.

Euronews: António Vitorino, thank you very much for joining us on The Global Conversation. 

Thank you to Fidelidade Studio/Nova SBE.